STORYTELLER Tim Porteus is heading into the garden this weekend, here he tells us why. . .

THIS weekend, I will be telling stories in the gardens of Tyninghame House, near East Linton.

The event is an open day supported by the residents of this impressive baronial house and Scotland’s Gardens Scheme.

The £5 entry will go to charities, and allow people the opportunity to wander through an award-winning garden with spectacular views and historic atmosphere.

Ancient footprints are here, for it is the site of one of the religious foundations established by St Baldred, East Lothian’s saint.

The landscaped estate and gardens today are of more recent origin, a product of eighteenth century aristocratic desire to sculpt nature into design.

It was then the old village was removed, and the new one built out of sight of the house.

This bonny new village, now nearly 250 years old, sits outside the estate gates.

The removal of the common folk from sight was part of the design of a landscaped “wilderness”.

In the way also was the 12th century church dedicated to St Baldred.

Its stones were sadly taken for other buildings, but in a time when romantic follies were becoming all the rage, the frame of the chapel, with its arch of chevrons, was kept.

And so it stands now, a picturesque ruin, as a silent witness to the history all around.

For this place is indeed steeped in history and folklore.

The bones of those who could tell the tales lie in the soil around the chapel.

Yet stories do not die if told and retold, and what better place for their telling than the ground upon which they were lived or woven.

The River yne flows elegantly into the sea within an eye’s reach of the House.

The banks of the river hold the secrets of a legendary love affair.

History does not tell this tale, but tradition is a keeper of deeper truths.

The looming magnificence of Traprain Law, although distant, still casts its presence here, telling of the time when the Goddodin held sway in Celtic times.

Yet the smell of fire and blood lingers also in the imagination, for warrior Vikings came to Tyninghame in AD 941.

We are told they sacked and destroyed the early religious house, as well as the one at nearby Auldhame.

A Viking king named Olaf Guthfrithsson may have led the force, and he may also have met his end here.

What really happened on that day of bloody deeds, on the ground where now the majesty of spring gives its display?

Do the bones of the Viking’s slayer lie beneath the Yew trees where once St Baldred preached?

Unanswered questions are the seeds of story.

Such also is the mystery of the stone “sleeping princess” who now lies within the ruins of the St Baldred’s church.

Her name is given by Judy, one of the residents of the house and an organiser of the garden open day.

Who was this woman who now sleeps in stone?

Her clothes tell us she was a medieval lady, yet what life was lived that now is forgotten?

Today the “wilderness” with its wild flowers and sentinel trees guard the tranquillity of this beautiful garden.

Silently and almost unobserved, the gardeners I had the pleasure to meet have skilfully nurtured it into a dreamscape of trees and flowers, a place where faeries can dance and humans lose themselves.

It’s a remarkable place, where stories float like wisps in the air, entwining nature with the grandeur of stone and status.

Maybe I’ll see you there on Sunday. The Tyninghame House storytelling event on Sunday is from 1pm to 5pm. Children go free.